This is our third show report in five months, which means that Kirsten and I have started to develop some regular habits. The most obvious habit is that we play a familiar game when we get home. It’s a high stakes game of “who gets to cover that?” Yes, that’s right. We haggle. You’d better believe we haggle.
I love my wife, but she’s downright vicious when it comes to staking out which rooms she gets to talk about. If you want to see a woman with fire in her eyes and blood on her hands, just try to get her to cover something she didn’t like. Conversely, she has absolutely no morals when it comes to trying to claim dibs on a room she liked. The best you can hope for is that she’ll offer a trade.
You have no idea how many rooms I traded away to get to talk about Endeavor Audio Engineering.
Endeavor launched themselves at CAS back in August. Kirsten and I were both impressed then. I was taken aback by that, since — on paper, at least — Endeavor does pretty much everything possible to make them look like just another me-too speaker. Slim, generically attractive floorstander? Check. Cones’n’domes? Check. Kevlar and metal drivers? Hoo-boy, that’s a check. So boring. You don’t even need to hear those, right?
The problem is that I did hear them, and hearing them put a quick end to my dismissal. I love it when that happens.
Their first speaker — and top of the current line — is the $6000 E-3. It is, as I mentioned, a slim, generic-looking floorstander. Nothing about it says “look at me.” It’s also modestly rated from 20hz to 30kHz. In that band, it’s within 2db between 32hz and 22khz. And did I mention that it’s a flat 4ohm impedance? Flat.
So the trick is that it only looks like a me-too speaker.
The first hint of that came on Friday, when Dean Peer, every audiophile’s favorite bassist, and his friend Bret Mann showed up to perform in the room. Bret offered up the percussion, while Dean treated the hifi rig as his stack. Dean laid out enough pedals to cover a good portion of the floor, and he seemed murderously intent on using all of them to see whether or not the Endeavors would survive to their rated spec. The sound was thunderous.
And, hey, the woofers got pretty well broken in. That’s a nice little side effect. Protip for folks exhibiting a cold system: have Dean Peer come stomp it to life. Endeavor’s system was fully on song on the first day.
Later listening happened on Saturday night, when we dragged a couple of pints of beer up from the bar for a bit of a sit down. The system was easily comfortable with jazz favorites, but the high point of the evening came from listening to the Talking Heads sound absolutely like they were in the room. Passing hotel staff joined in, marveled, smiled uncontrollably, and announced their intention to buy show tickets for Sunday. It was a stunning display of swagger from Endeavor.
The rest of the system saw a Your Final System Music Server ($15,500) feeding an EMM Labs DAC2X ($15,000). A VAC Standard ($7500) served as preamp, and Dusty Vawter’s Channel Islands D-200 Mk II monoblocks ($4000) drove the speakers. If the more reasonably priced system featured at CAS lacked a bit of air and nuance, this gear handily fixed those shortcomings.
It’s probably polite to mention that Endeavor debuted two cheaper models on silent display. Pricing ranges from $1500 per pair for a small standmount (that resembles the E-3 without its dual bass drivers) to $1750 each for a good-sized MTM that’s meant to serve as a center speaker.
Endeavor may be a new company, but the Endeavor E-3 is a monster.